By Barry Lindsay
West Cumbria MC’s Greystoke Stages was run to a new format in 2017 with no split junctions. However before you get that far the event is so popular it’s a race to get an entry. 55 entries plus reserves within 20min of entries being available at 8am on a Sunday morning!
Darren Martin & Martin Steele were seeded at 10 in the Evo9, with Barry Lindsay & Caroline Lodge at 15 in the 206. James Coxon was navigating for Mark Shaw at 25 in the Sunbeam. Rob Graham & Helen Harkness were in the Mk1 Escort at 33 then Jamie Martin & Kyle Gass at 48 in the Subaru.
Stages were dry and dusty and in great condition despite recent M-sport testing but had been re-graded. Darren & Martin were quickest SMC crew with 7m01. Barry & Caroline were in attacking mode and were on a mission with the Proflex on a very different setting to normal and a brake issue sorted Barry was feeling a lot of grip while others complained of slippery conditions. 7m05 opened up a 12sec class lead to Mark & James who had battle scars on the Sunbeam after thumping a big straw bales used for a chicane. Rob & Helen got 7m 39 followed by Jamie & Kyle on 7m43.
After a service it was back for a re-run. Darren & Martin were again quickest but weren’t happy with the grip they had. Barry & Caroline were up to speed, later on the brakes and with Caroline pushing Barry on with accurate map reading the 206 crew got 6m59 and now a 30sec class lead. Mark & James got 7m15 with Jamie & Kyle just behind on 7m 18. Rob & Helen on 7m 24. Now followed a long service while the route direction changed and Spadeadam marshals moved that were doing flying finish & stop.
Stage 3 ran in the opposite direction. Barry & Caroline trusted the map and the setup. 7m 12 but they were both sweating at the end of the stage. This gained another 14sec to the class contenders. Darren & Martin had a spin in the Evo and getting 7m 12. Mark & James got 7m 26 then Rob & Helen on 7m40 just ahead of Jamie & Kyle.
Stage 4 was a repeat, Darren & Martin had altered tyre pressures and transformed the car getting 6m 48 ahead of Barry & Caroline who’s front tyres were past their best got 7m07. Mark & James got 7m16 then Jamie & Kyle on 7m30. Rob & Helen had the gear stick come off in Robs hand and left them to complete the stage stuck in 3rd gear, it would be fixed in service but lost them 45seconds.
Stage 5 had a different mile or so at the start then joined what was stage 3&4 direction. Darren & Martin got 6m25 while Barry & Caroline now had less advantage of driving to the map as others got to know the stage and with a comfy class lead a set of part worn tyres were fitted keeping the new ones for another day. 6m 46 still increased the lead while Mark & James were battling for 2nd in class. Jamie & Kyle got 7m14 and the fettled MK1 of Rob & Helen on 7m15.
Final stage Darren & Martin got 6m23 and got them 8th Overall 5th in class. Barry & Caroline brought the 206 home repeating the same time of 6m46 getting them 12th OA and 1st 1600 class and were first front wheel drive car. Mark & James were pipped on the last stage and settled for 3rd in class 18th OA with a time of 6m46. Rob & Helen got 7m10 finishing 33rd OA 7th in class. Jamie & Kyle got 7m13 finishing 28th OA 7th in class.